Afflux (Influx)

AffluxAfflux is Eric Cordier, Eric La Casa, and Jean-Luc Guionnet—all of them with other cds on Ground Fault, all of them very talented composer/performers. There are three tracks on this disc, and three men, but the pieces, so far as I can hear, do not reflect each individual. What happens here is one more instance of talented people, each with clearly discernable styles, working in tandem with other equally talented individuals to produce music that is clearly different from anything any of them do alone.

The first track, Bouquetot, autoroute A13, is surprisingly quiet for a piece recorded along a highway. Very quiet sounds, very small sounds amplified, breathing—and of course, a couple of cars providing natural crescendi and decrescendi. And rain. It’s a strange piece in that its sounds are just processed enough to be strange, but not processed enough to be unrecognizable. We’ve already heard how rain and fire can sound indistinguishable. Here, the rain crackles like nothing else. It’s as if Bouquetot, autoroute A13 were perfectly balanced between straight open mic soundscape and electroacoustic, never one nor the other but its own third category. (One final word. The amplified steel strings which were “stretched between the iron tunnel and the van” where all the equipment was make an extraordinarily lovely noise.)

Track two, Paris, gare de Lyon, is also a soundscape that’s not a soundscape. Some train sounds, but very few, and mostly the hard, metallic squeal of brakes. Some people talking, but not much. Some shortwaves, but not much. Some announcing of trains, but very little. Mostly this track gives the kind of atmosphere of a place that only microphones pick up—something like what you’d hear in a gare, but transmuted into something rich and strange than only electrons can produce. Paris, gare de Lyon also has steel strings, by the way, this time courtesy of SNCF. And rain, too, courtesy of nimbostratus clouds.

The third track, Port-Jerome, raffinerie, is the loudest of the three, with more sudden bursts of sound. It sounds, oddly enough, the most natural of the three, probably because all of the noises are the naturally occurring sounds of a refinery, with no additional sounds (steel strings or shortwaves) and—so far as I can hear—little to no processing of the sounds. The only thing that could be considered “extra” is the siren—they recorded this on an emergency training day.

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